Friday, November 30, 2007

New words for Tetis

This morning it was rainy, so my (Tetis) plans changed. I hoped to take the boys on a walk to look for dogs and cats while we waited for the winter tires to be put on the minivan. So instead I dropped Mama and the boys off at Ieva's house for a visit (and to see the cat) while I took the van to the garage and worked on an upcoming class on population growth for math class at LCC.

In the afternoon, Pastor Modestas stopped for a visit while the boys were taking their nap. We had a good visit and a chance to talk about church life in both the Silute and Klaipeda churches. Modestas saw the boys when they awoke. In the evening I went to the regular Friday night Paaugliai (Junior High) meeting. This week Augenijus somehow got into his head that he was coming with me. Mama was able to distract him with something, and then he forgot about it--there are some advantages to him only being 2 years old.

I find I have expanded my Lithuanian vocabulary and use some words much more often that I expected to. Some of these words would be:

Labai gerai - Very Good!
Atsargai - Be careful (I use this very often!)
negalima - No, you can't do that.
Tau patinka? - Do you like (this)?
Po penkios minutes mes (einam/miegam/t.t.)-after 5 minutes we will (leave/sleep/etc).
Tu geras berniukas bet bloga darei - You are a good boy, but you did a bad thing.
Greitai, gretai! - Quickly! Hurry!
Reikia valgyk darzoves - You must eat your vegetables (I hated that when I was a kid)
Ar tu gerai miegoji? - Did you sleep well?
Ar reikia pampersio? - do you need a new diaper/pampers?

And, of course, the most important words:

As myliu tave - I love you!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

nap time

The afternoon nap is about the only hour a day I really have free to think and write. But it takes a bit to settle down after they are settled because it is still quite a struggle to get to that point. I really dislike the struggle.

The colds are getting better. Erik seemed to only have the sore throat one day. And the ugly cough Augenijus has is slowly getting better. I seem to be on top of mine now, just Gregg is fighting his.

One bright spot in the week for me and for the boys as it turns out is my participation in intramural volleyball at LCC. It runs two evenings a week. It is quite a motivator if they want to go they have to eat supper and get dressed.

The big hall there at LCC is a good place for them to explore and run. They need more running. We went this morning for a while too. Then they wanted to explore the bathrooms and locker rooms. When they ran into the men's locker room I did not follow. Augenijus came out crying with his head wet. He turned on the shower and was quite suprised by what happened! Mama now knows what the men's locker room looks like. Early morning there were no patrons.

Yesterday I went to a morning prayer breakfast with Klaipeda's pastors and priests, a monthly event. It was good to see the boys eagerly waving goodbye at the windows as I left as they do for their dad. And they squealed with happy greetings when I returned too. Since I have not been the one to leave, I miss out on all of the goodbyes and greetings.

It was very encouraging to be with this group of Klaipeda pastors again and to share with them as well. I got the comment- now we can talk with you about kids. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


We are all having our times with colds- runny/stuffy nose and tickling or sore throat. It makes going outside for any length of time unwise- but also challenging being inside.

The boys are testing repeatedly how much they can get away with and still learning what it means to respect mama and mama is being tested to see whether her nerves will hold up. If there could be attention to just one of them it could probably work out OK. Two has greater challenges- have to hope the other does not get into the wrong things while dealing with one. Erik seems to want to protect his younger brother from being corrected as well.

We have a little chair in a hallway corner now. For our version of time out. I overhead Erik talking one day about going to the corner. Before I started using this. So, I took the cue that they understand this from discipline in the group. Neither likes it. But it takes Augenijus many times repeatedly before he realizes he can change behavior to avoid it.

It is great to see them respond well to Gregg. Would probably be ideal if we could have had another week of Gregg being home to establish our living and discipline patterns. But life moves along.

Gregg teaches Tuesdays and Thursdays and this week he also does academic advising as students pick their courses for the next semester. And he has lunch one on one with various students throughout the week. This is becoming quite a regular ministry.

So that fact that we are getting less sleep, not sleeping well is making things pretty tough for all Gregg is involved with. He usually slows down when he gets a cold, but there is no time for that this time.

Now those of you out there praying for us have an idea where to start!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

more new experiences

We went to Silute church- all 4 of us.

The church celebrated our adoption by giving us a flower/plant and sharing some warm wishes. I decided to use the boys early morning energy to help bake cookies to take for after the service.

There was a celebration after the service too recognizing one of the Lithuanian young women of the congregation who has moved to another city to help with church planting. She and the church planters were at the service today.

The others mothers around the food table were surprised when I asked for tea for the boys. It seems that warm tea was the most regular drink at the baby house and they feel quite at home drinking tea and often ask for it.

The Children's Church was larger than usual and the age range from 1 to 10 made it impossible to keep everyone occupied so the younger ones eventually started playing on their own.- Of course that includes our two.

Then we went to a local Silute pizza restaurant that also has a good play area. Well after having cookies and cake- and seeing lots of exciting things to play on, the boys were not interested in eating. (This meant they were ready enough for supper to eat something I thought they would refuse based on an earlier experience)

And we got home with both of them sleeping somewhat restelessly in the car. A 1 hour drive will do that to you. But really it seemed to go well both directions.

Play time this evening was fun too and before time for bed they started pulling out the magazines and coffee table books. And Free association began. I don't think I ever heard Erik talk so much. Making up the story as he went according to what he was seeing in the pictures from one book to the next. Must have chattered away for more than 15 minutes! (Lithuanian of course)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

T day with LCC community

Our "family Thanksgiving" shared with about 100 others gave a chance for the boys to test out the variety of little friends they could have, Lithuanian and English speaking.

Of course it was natural that they connected with Lithuanian ones. The little group discovered a motion sensing light in a back hallway/staircase. And they would "step across the line" and then run because the boogey man (baubas) was coming. We often here the boys talk about baubas coming to get them, mostly in fun. They choose to turn lights off and play that the baubas is coming.

This was also a chance for them to explore a much larger place to play and explore. Yesterday they seemed to get really rammy and testy from being in the apartment- yet they really did not want to go out either. And then did not want to return. It was a long day for mama. (probably for them too since Tetis was away, including the evening)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

We joined others from LCC in a somewhat unusual tradition we have around here- since it is a work day, we go out to McDonalds as a group for supper. The Die Hards have Mc Chicken sandwich and apple pie and yearn for home.

We were having our first trip to Mc Donalds with the boys. So we got Happy Meals and tried them out on hamburgers. Mama got nuggets since it was likely they would not go for the burgers. Well they did not go for them either. But Apple juice- now that was a hit. And French fries were ok, but we had them several times this week at home so it was no big deal.

They- well we should say Erik- did not want to sit with the rest of the group. And whatever Erik wants strongly influences Augenijus. But after a while they saw a baby- a baby that has just learned to walk and that drew them into the group.

Good this story had a happy ending. If you would have seen us on the way out of the house you would have questioned our sanity for Erik was screaming that he did not want to go. He was ready to be at home. And usually is, unless we say we are going to the store. We had also been out to LCC and to the store for an hour before this, so in a way we understood. But it also seems he is afraid of a lot of new things and so gradually we will need to help him adjust and experience things that are fun after all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Squeal of the day

Well today it was a pigeon. We went walking toward the Danes river to see a boat that is docked there. We also saw some men fishing, we just weren't close enough, but it will be interesting to see the boys reaction when they see that close up. On the way back we came upon some pigeons on the corner of two major streets. They looked like they owned the place but the boys were about to change that. They squealed about the birds and then ran chasing them. Pigeons don't fly much but stride away, but eventually they had enough and realized they had to fly to escape!

We also came upon a happier solution for nap time. I play guitar and sing to them while they fall asleep. This means they also pay attention- which was a bit of an issue when I've played before. I am hoping they will learn some songs we can sing together.

Their rambunctious natures are exercising every ounce of mama's energy to tussle on the floor and play catch me (pagauk). Got me thinking- I always did like wrestling on the floor a bit more than my sisters did. So I get to make up for it now!

Monday evening we took them to see the last half of a basketball game at LCC. They seemed to enjoy it. And the parents enjoyed the extra attention afterward that the boys attracted more than the boys did I think.

It continues to amaze us how the boys, especially Erik know the routine with prayer before meals. And should be forget or delay, they start pretending. The Lithuanian words are starting to come out nicely.

Some are asking what we are doing about the names. Well, we are still using Augenijus, and sometimes say David Augenijus and hope to transition to using David more by the summer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who is being disciplined?

Well, it has been a busy couple of days! Now with both boys required to be in bed for at least an hour, there are a few minutes to take advantage of. For cleaning up, for planning a little activity for the afternoon, for writing.

Generally they are quite fun. And even after some discipline and foul moods, they come around just as lovable. It is quite the adjustment for them and for various reasons Erik has an attitude that will need to be adjusted. But I cannot expect too much too soon. If I say what is required and walk out of the room it works better on his ego for him to do it in his own timing when no one watches. If I stay and require something there will be all kinds of antics and rolling on the floor, sucking his thumb and so on. And he holds out quite long.

Today he was defiant at one point and I held him for a time out for 2 minutes. He both resisted and liked that one I think. I really expected he would fight it harder. Now when i say I don't want to but I will punish you if you do not listen, he is more responsive.

It is complicated when there are two. I'll leave that to your imagination.

And it challenges me to be disciplined as well. To plan ahead. To figure what will motivate and use it wisely. And to structure activity. In the new environment- they have fun for a while, but then seem to get bored, not knowing what to do with themselves. Picking up toys for less than a minute and then on to something else.

One video has been good for them- Donut Man about animals at the zoo. It is English so they do understand they are also getting the teaching about obeying mom and dad. Oh well.

One more thing of interest- I got the vacuum cleaner out for the first time to add some excitement. Oh the squeals! I offered for them to help. But since this was new they jumped up on the living room chair and tested to see if they put their feet down the vacuum would "come get them".

And the washing machine has still not lost its appeal- just now we are on to them helping to load and unload. They really seem to like those every day things especially trying to help!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

As Tevelis (I am a Father)

Wow! Words fail me to describe all that has happened since we met the boys at the end of September. We went from being strangers to being adult playmates, and now we are parents, and they treat us as parents. While it was a long time in coming and there was a lot of work involved, even in these 3 days it has been worthwhile.

Today we got up and ate breakfast, and then they wanted a bath. The boys like the toy boat, which makes bath-time much easier (they asked each day so far without being coaxed), but we will have to start using lotion so their skin doesn't dry up. Then we went for a walk and ended up calling a friend to visit their daughter Ieva and see their cat. This time the boys were not so frightened of it, and Augenijus touched the cat. They want to go again.

Just the other day, Erik was combing his hair, and he wanted to comb my hair. So I bent over so he could, and he combed it along my part (which pleasantly surprised me). When he finished, he again combed his hair, but this time combed his hair to the side so he would have a part like mine! He has done this with a couple of things--wants to use my big cup, wants to try something if I do it, of says he thinks something is tasty if I say that I like it. It is fun!

Every time I try to wash the dishes when they are in the room, both boys come running! I tell them to get their blocks (large sturdy blocks that they can stand on to be able to reach the bathroom sink), and they "help" me. Erik does rather well even with washing, and they both know how to rinse soap off of things. It probably takes me twice as long to do the dishes, but 5 or 10 years from now I will wish they would be so helpful!

Second night is a charm

Almost too good to be true, no wake up calls during the night. And sleeping in till 7:30 in the morning. Erik till 8.

Mama's wake up call (though she was actually awake lying in bed) is the sound of Mama, Mama, Mama in a rythmic chant. And usually that means Augenijus is on his hands and knees rocking back and forth. So far his is used to the rules of the home (and probably the crib) so he has to call for someone to let him out of the bed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

First night

The first night went well all considered! But for the "play by play"... We started the bedtime routine around 8 pm and probably did not have them sucessfully settled till after 9- but what is successfully settled when later one has to go to the bathroom, another awakes suddenly after a half hour crying. Because of the comments about ghosts, I decided one of us should stay in the room. That was good in a way, but I could hear how they tossed and turned and groaned. But eventually Augenijus slept- until the episodes of crying. Gregg eventually decided to change the diaper and that seemed to settle it. Erik seemed to want to have attention so after 10:30 I left and he eventually slept.

Gregg was attuned more than I would expect and heard and responded to 2 cries from Augenijus during the night. (May Gregg's tribe increase.- Gregg has been excellent with the boys)

Then Augenijus woke before 6:30 calling mama from his bed. So it was time to start the day! Erik slept till 8- and that was ok. They both woke up in basically good moods :)

After getting dressed we offered porridge for breakfast- I heard that is what they often have, especially because they don't eat eggs. But that was refused. But when they saw tetis eating corn flakes- that was exciting. The next generation of Brubakers is carrying on the tradition Gregg learned from his father.

They really enjoy watching me cook and want to get involved if they can.
We also introduced them to tub baths last night and since there was a toy boat they can only use in the tub, they got Gregg to give baths again before lunch- will have to start using lotion on them!

They have collected their gifts from yesterday in gift bags to carry around. They are establishing what is theirs. They have never had so much all their in their little lives even though right now it can all fit in a gift bag as far as they know.
But the big change during the day today is that they no longer carry the bags around- the toys are strewn all over the floor of multiple rooms- I guess they can trust the toys will be there and don't need to protect them anymore.

We also went to the grocery store the first time as a family this morning. Imagine Gregg out shopping by 9:30 on Saturday morning.

The store has carts with little kiddie cars on the front of them so that was a first experience too. Gregg stopped on the way back for windshield fluid and they really enjoyed watching that go into the car.

Gregg will add some more later.

This is from tonight- an adendum to the post... They were asleep by 9! and no sounds from them since. We even had an hour now before bed for ourselves!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Day one

Wow- this is really happening!
Kind of tired at the end of this one- some pictures will need to tell some of the story.

We arrived about 9:40 in time to share a few cookies with children in the group- and then be moved out to the entry way to change the boys clothes into ours. Erik was especially eager and has been really cooperative all day.

Our first stop was at the store to get balloons which provided a lot of good entertainment for the day.

Then they got here and discovered a few more new things here and there, including bathroom things in a bag waiting to be opened. It took the second time going into the bathroom to discover them though. But oh what fun- toothbrushes... and other things, but the toothbrushes got good voluntary use numerous times!

After lunch it was nap time and with all of the excitement we all needed it! :)

After naps we gave them additional toys we had saved for this special day as well as a first installment of the things we were given at the shower on Monday at LCC. Well actually the bathroom supplies were from that shower too. For some things Erik asks who gave them. But there were so many things today and we did not talk about who all gave them.

Then when it was the time of evening we usually would take them back to the baby house Erik asked if we are taking them back. He asked repeatedly throughout the evening and was dissappointed that he was not going back. I guess the leaving is sinking in. It took him a good while to get to sleep tonight too.

We need to be ready for the possibility of a natural wake up call at 6:30 or 7 so- better keep this short and get some sleep! Unfortunately in the middle of the day I mistakenly pushed the wrong button on the camera and deleted all the pictures we took in the morning at the baby house. Hope to have better presence of mind for the next days about such things!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Court hearing success!

Today was our big day- a judge decided after hearing our case and supporting testimony from others to grant us our request to adopt the two boys. Yeah!

We had a fairly flexible no-nonsense judge who was efficient and the whole process was done in less than 2 hours. The decision will still need to wait 40 days to be final. But today's decision allowed for the adoption service to provide needed paperwork to the baby house for the boys to be released to us.

We arranged to pick up the boys tomorrow morning to bring them home- wow it is almost strange to be on this side of the proceedure! But we are quite happy of course.

So now I need to go and focus on having things ready here and when we get a chance... we'll tell more- especially about the first day home!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Busy Weekend

This weekend was a busy weekend. Gregg went to Silute for his usual Friday night with the Junior High Group and Saturday and Sunday we went to Panevezys to spend time with fellow missionary Barry Freed and the Pastor of the Panevezys Free Christian Church (and Gregg preached Sunday morning there too).

But we made time to be with the boys before we left on Saturday. When we arrived, the boys ran to us and hugged us as soon as they saw us. We quickly changed them to go outside, and we brought them back to our apartment.

The boys were in a quieter mood (something we will probably appreciate even more in the future), so we played quieter games and they wanted to color in their coloring books. So Mama got out the new, smaller crayons for Erik, as we have seen he has the manual dexterity to use them. And Mama got out the larger colored pencils for Augenijus. They both enjoyed these new things, and Augenijus appeared to enjoy lining up the colored pencils, moving them to another place on the table, and then moving them back again several times!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

1 week and counting

Next Thursday this time it should be all resolved. The court hearing that is.

And Next Friday our lives change forever. And we are still looking forward to it. Even if the emotional exhaustion is making at least Sharon drag a bit already.

The special event for today's visit was a walk in town to visit a friend who has a cat. Kim and Andrew Stave have been at LCC almost as long as we are and they have a 2 year old girl who they named Ieva- a common Lithuanian name. They also have a Lithuanian babysitter. This made for a nice interaction for the boys. They really looked forward to going, but the reality of a large cat scared them and they would only stop shuddering if the cat was kept at a good distance away. We enjoyed just playing there though once the cat was separated into a different room.

I am noticing a bit of regression in behavior for Erik over the last 2 visits. I've read about this- in fact I had just picked up our book "Our own: adopting and parenting the older child" last night. It talks about how children may revert to younger stages, how they go about grieving, anger and anniversary reactions.

It can be tempting to try to fix it too quickly, but providing the loving safe atmosphere to effectively go through it is key- and that takes some mama energy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Checking in with the baby house director confirmed that no overnight visits are allowed- by law- otherwise she would have let us have them long ago- in her words.

She will not be there on the 16th, but promised that she would prepare records and things so that we can take them home that day.

We had lunch at LCC with dad(Gregg). Introduced them to a few more LCC people up close. And they are definitely getting more comfortable being there. The volume level and energy level were good proof! It took some creative thinking and psychology to get them out to the car afterwards. They realized going home meant nap time. And for all mama's best efforts it was certainly not accomplished without tears and anger on the boys part.

They were very interested in playing catch me and running away and delaying that desire/?need did not make them happy. But after naps they were in better moods.

We made cookies together. They saw an egg cracked- a raw one for the first time. They have seen hard boiled ones, but they were definitely quite surprised at this one!

And they got to take cookies back to their group. That changes the pouting quickly too when they realize they have to go back to the orphanage. Taking cookies makes them feel special in the other kids eyes it seems.

Monday, November 5, 2007


The visit Sunday afternoon was a little overwhelming and I found myself unable to write or do much for processing the emotions. You could say it is good- but just hard. And maybe the experienced parents out there are saying already- well just wait till the real forever family life starts. Oh, well, this is my reality.

When i arrived about 5pm to pick up the boys, the caregiver told me that Augenijus has been asking when I was coming and then was crying because he wanted his "mama" to come. Erik had been outside when I arrived but he soon saw that the van was there and came inside looking for his mama. The caregivers asked if we are going to have them overnight. It is time for them to get used to that. Or so they think. I will have to check in with the director again. Sometimes that is a clue- at least when the transition was allowed for day time visits, it happened after the caregiver suggested it.

They welcomed a ride in the car for going home. I knew this visit would be a little challenging though because in 2 hours we needed to be back again. Augenijus really wanted to go to the sea. But it gets dark early now so it did not seem the best time for that it was definitely not what Erik wanted!

Most of all they wanted to play on the floor and run and be caught, lots of physical contact.

But then when time to go they threw quite a fit, which was only remedied by having a bag of cookies each for them to take back to the group. But other than wanting to prolong the changing time from outside clothes to inside clothes back at the orphanage (to get some hands on help from mom) they did pretty well in saying goodbye there.

I guess the natural time for overnight visits is usually the weekend. We planned to be away over this next Saturday night- our last free one probably, so maybe we'll be able to arrange something for an overnight a different day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Rainy Day

A rainy day...a quiet day listening to the rain fall...yeah, right--with a 2- and 3-year-old? No way--it's anything but quiet. There are toys that make noise, laughing, running, and the occassional "Mano!" ("Mine!") when brother tries to steal a toy.

It was another rainy day in Klaipeda (one of many), but inside the house there was sun and laughter as we played with toys. Today Erik wanted to watch a video, so the "Donut Man" came out, so they could see animals in a zoo and hear songs being sung. Since Erik wanted to watch, Augenijus decided to watch too, even if it was only for 5 minutes. After a total of 10 minutes Erik also lost interest, but who can blame him when there are other toys to play with?

The morning went quickly, as did lunch--or at least the first serving of lunch. Augenijus decided he was finished so we left him go, but he came back 2 minutes later to get another bite to eat. Then he was willing to eat more if Mama or Tetis (daddy) would feed him. So we did, and when Erik was finished, Augenijus wanted to finish Erik's food. Even though it was the same as his own food, we are sure Augenijus thought it tasted better.

Eventually we started chasing each other around the house, which they seem to enjoy doing after their naps. Tetis put a blanket over the boys to "hide" them from Mama, but they soon started walking around, pretending to be ghosts. Erik ran around with the blanket so much that his hair was wet from perspiration. So Mama thought they should have a bath, or better yet, a shower, which neither of them ever had.

They wanted to see what a shower was, so Tetis took them into the shower. He let them feel the water so they knew that it wasn't too hot or too cold, then he ran the water over himself so they would know what was coming. They liked having the water run over them. Then we used some soap, then shampoo. At one point when Tetis was rinsing Augenijus' hair, some water splashed Erik in the face when he wasn't ready for it. He had to cry a little bit. Augenijus enjoyed the shower thoroughly, playing enough that he slipped twice, catching himself once and the other time he slid down the side of the tub and ending up laying on the bottom, and then he laughed. We dried them off and Mama dried their hair with a blowdryer.

Before they returned to the "grupe", they played with Play Dough. They like making snakes and using the animal cutouts to make rabbits, giraffes, elephants and their favorite--crocodiles. We made many animals and it was a good way to quiet down before returning to the "grupe".

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bragging on Erik

We continue to hear good things about the changes in Erik from the caregivers. They see a much more responsive and cooperative little boy. Also one who takes care of his brother which they say did not used to be the case. He makes sure he is not left out of things that he is doing.

In the beginning it was Erik that we were concerned about- would he bond, how would he accept our love. But we are not too concerned about it anymore. He is usually quite open to affection and is seeking opportunities to be caught and held.

Erik is also starting to catch on to our mode of internet phone calls with family. we are having a little difficulty with getting technology to work on both ends well, but we do have the webcam in this computer so eventually we hope it will be more satisfactory.

We are teaching them to say grandma and grandpa. Earlier we were using the Lithuanian names, but the name for grandpa is quite similar to Santa Claus here and it seemed that was the association.
So it may be more helpful to start the English.

They have learned the word "on" and now when we are waiting for an English word like more or again- they come out with "on"!

We are starting to talk about the future- that some day they will come and live with us all of the time. Their sense of time is not too well developed at this age. For us 2 weeks (till the court date) will go by quickly now.